Mercer to Hold Third Annual Visionary Student Panel


MACON – Mercer University will host its third annual Visionary Student Panel on Oct. 10-11 from 6-8 p.m. each night. The panel will take place in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center and is free and open to the public.

The Visionary Student Panel, hosted by Mercer's Research that Reaches Out Office, is part of the Grand Challenges programming in the University's current Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

The event, which takes place each fall during the five-year QEP, provides a platform for undergraduate students to present proposals for exploring local, national or global issues or problems tied directly to the Grand Challenge topics. This year's topic is “Personal Well-being.”

“The easiest way to describe the Visionary Student Panel is as a socially-conscious Shark Tank, without the competition and meanness but still with the potential for funding,” said Hannah Vann, associate director of Research That Reaches Out. “I met with every applicant last week to hear their ideas and help them craft their pitches. From there, we selected the final presenters. Topics range from developing a map of recycling bins on campus to building a long-range drone that can be used to analyze and evaluate the health and potential of rural agricultural communities. It's exciting to see our students recognize their own capacity to change the world.”

Twenty student projects will be presented by 30 students, with some students presenting as individuals and others as teams. Following each five-minute presentation, a panel of faculty and staff and the audience will have the opportunity to provide feedback to each presenter. Students will then use this feedback to develop their funding proposals.

“We have modified the event this year to be a fully developmental process that supports students from pitch to implementation,” said Dr. Kathryn Kloepper, associate professor of chemistry and director of Research That Reaches Out. “After the Visionary Student Panel, presenters will participate in a grant workshop hosted by Research That Reaches Out, where we will help them craft their funding proposals. Although the mini-grant awards are selective, we will continue to provide all of the students with support to find other avenues for realizing their ideas.”

The following presentations will take place on Tuesday, beginning at 6 p.m.:

“Implementing a teen maze simulation to help Macon-Bibb teens understand the consequences of engaging in risky behaviors” by Veronica Enchautegui and Mary Melissa Roland “Developing a hydroelectric generator that harnesses the power of rainwater to supplement coal-powered energy” by Adam Landin and Mark Boland “Developing a long-range drone for use in evaluating agriculture health and planning in rural farming communities” by Parker Laue “Designing a music curriculum for use in after-school programs that serve refugee populations” by Sophie Leveille “Mapping recycling bins on campus and incorporating them into a 'Bear Essentials' map that helps students find essential services on campus” by Daniel Pham and Joseph Land “Researching the role of microgrids to reduce reliance on solid fuels in rural areas and resulting health problems from indoor air pollution” by Zechariah Rice “Forming a student organization, the Respected Opinions Center, where students can engage in respectful intellectual discussions” by Samukai Sarnor, Stephanie Duffy and Christopher Denman “Implementing an intergenerational housing model for Mercer students to add quality of life for a local senior housing facility” by Anna Stallings and Carson Outler “Examining the viability of establishing gender-neutral housing on Mercer's campus” by James Stair “Designing an educational campaign to help students learn how to self-assess their personal well-being” by Alice Yoon

The following presentations will take place on Wednesday, beginning at 6 p.m.:

“Bringing the 'Campus Couches' initiative to Mercer to create a space for students to engage with peers outside their social circles” by Laura Ann Harrell, Mary Martinez and Shruthi Vikraman “Supplying the local children's hospital with entertaining and engaging games to help families pass time during hospital stays” by Juliana Hawkinson “Developing online training modules on ethical medical volunteerism for international service experiences” by Ashila Jiwani and Anna Womick “Supporting services for homeless populations in Macon” by Bobbie Peacock “Evaluating the effects of using warning labels in vaping marketing on the incidence of vaping” by Caleb Phillips “Creating a handbook customized for Georgia towns for implementing best practices in community development” by Cole Porter “Establishing a program to help high school students with disabilities develop the skills necessary for living on a residential college campus” by Johna Wright “Growing awareness and decreasing the stigma of depression and anxiety with a skateboard/run/walk/dance/bike-a-thon” by Alfred Troy “Hosting a series of facilitated dialogues called 'Daring Discussions' where students can talk about social issues” by John Williams and Catherine Crowe “Creating a curriculum for Macon-Bibb public school students to introduce them to current events and popular culture in the Middle East” by Maddie Zgonc

Last year, eight teams of students earned a total of more than $7,000 to support their Research That Reaches Out projects focused on real-world problems.